‘We are happy to bring that report:’ A closer look at JCPS’ possible metal detector plan

The Jefferson County Board of Education voted Tuesday for Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio to create and present a proposal to install metal detectors in Jeffers
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:20 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The Jefferson County Board of Education voted Tuesday for Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio to create and present a proposal to install metal detectors in Jefferson County schools.

The motion also calls for Pollio to look at best practices to “ensure that we are not criminalizing kids.”

The board’s motion and vote come after 19 guns have been found on JCPS campuses during the 2022-2023 season.

The metal detector conversation has become louder since guns were found at Eastern High School and Moore High School in the past two weeks.

“Just a metal detector at least,” Moore High School parent Yolaanda said. “At least something, because this is not the first time "

“Is it extreme, yes,” one Moore High School parent who did not want to be identified said. “But is it necessary to protect the children, also yes.”

Corrie Shull proposed the motion at Tuesday night’s meeting. The board 5-1 to approve it.

Chris Kolb was the only dissenting vote.

The motion asks for Dr. Pollio to present his plan at the board meeting on April 25.

“We are happy to bring that report,” Pollio said. “We have actually already started scheduling visits to others. We’re going to bring you the research around that. We’re going to bring you the plan with that.”

Despite his willingness to present the report, Pollio told the board he has concerns about the implementation of the plan.

He said, to start, the detectors could be more ‘weapons detectors’ and not standard metal detectors, which would not force students to remove their Chromebooks from their backpacks while passing through.

Pollio also said he’s concerned there is not enough manpower for the job.

He said each school would need 8-10 trained personnel to implement the screenings for multiple hours per day.

Pollio’s other concern is centered on the presence of officers.

In 2019, The JCPS Board voted not to have police officers in the school buildings. Pollio said the metal detector plan would mandate officers be available to remove a gun if it’s found on school grounds.

“I also want to make sure we have the ability to implement this successfully, and it not become a real challenge next September that we are sitting here talking about a lack of personnel to do that,” Pollio said.

That said, Pollio told the board he is not worried about the project’s cost, which he believes would be roughly $5 million.

Pollio believes the district would need 5-10 machines in each high school and 3-5 in every middle school.

“We can implement it with the finance that we currently have,” he said. “That is not an issue.”

WAVE News talked to JCPS’ Chief of Communications, who said Pollio will tour other school districts that currently have metal detectors in place.

She also said the district will map out safety plans to prevent large numbers of students gathered together while they wait to pass through the metal detectors.

WAVE News reached out to Fayette County Public Schools for context on how that district utilizes its metal detectors. A district spokesperson did not return WAVE News’ call.